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Time travel and other TV trends you can count on in 2016

Watching TV
Sami Sarkis | Getty Images

Living in the so-called golden age of television has its consequences. Because of all the great TV out there, networks are under immense pressure to produce high-quality television that breaks out of the pack and appeals to the masses and advertisers — something that is easier said than done.

And while everyone wants to stand out, what emerges from this year's so-called TV upfront presentations, which wrapped last week, is looking more like a pack mentality. Consider there will be three shows on time travel debuting in the upcoming season.

One media buyer pointed out that the unofficial rule for new shows is that a concept has been successful for at least two seasons. What results is most "revolutionary" new shows are based on source materials that we've literally seen before. Or, if it's truly an "original" idea, multiple networks will also have the same concept at the same time.

Time travel

No one can pinpoint the reason why three broadcast networks — ABC, Fox and NBC — had the idea to greenlight the three separate shows about time travel. Some sources pointed to the successes of CW's "Legends of Tomorrow" and "Flash." Others contended that the resurgence of "Dr. Who," has sent networks scrambling for their own Time Lord.

Or, as one person argued, there must be some big data report using social media analytics that determined the one thing that millennials will sit in front of a TV for is time-traveling shows.

Regardless of the reason, we now have NBC's "Timeless," a time-traveling drama about villains trying to change American history. We'll also have Fox's "Making History," a time-traveling comedy about heroes trying to change American history.

If those don't suit your fancy, there's ABC's "Time After Time," which is based on the science fiction book and movie about real author H.G. Wells traveling in time to stop the also real (but still not identified) Jack the Ripper.

Blast from the past

Rebooting a TV series is a safe concept. You have a built-in audience and a somewhat solid idea that succeeded before — well, at least in the days when TV was king and the idea of premium digital-first programming didn't exist. We have series like CBS' "Hawaii Five-0" and the miniseries run of the "The X-Files" on Fox as a result.

It's also led to NBC's "Heroes Reborn." The remake of "Heroes" has a paltry 53 out of 100 score on Metacritic.

In case you missed "MacGyver," CBS is bringing the series back to TV after several attempts from multiple parties. WB Television (now CW) developed a potential show about "Young MacGyver" in 2003, but decided not to go forward. Actor Richard Dean Anderson reprised his iconic MacGyver role in 2012 in a short film series ... for Mercedes-Benz.

CBS will also launch a new "Star Trek," the first TV series for the franchise since "Star Trek: Enterprise" ended its run in 2005. The show will not be on broadcast, however. While the pilot will air on CBS, all subsequent episodes will be on CBS' over-the-top service CBS All Access.

Fox is bringing back the whole family for a nine-episode "Prison Break" miniseries. Spoiler alert: They have to break Michael (Wentworth Miller) out of jail ... again. It's also reimagining "24" with "24: Legacy." Instead of Jack Bauer, there's Carter, an ex-Army Ranger who has to work with CTU to stop the largest terrorist attack on American soil. As if blowing up Valencia, California, in season six wasn't enough.

(But, in case you really miss the original Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland will head to ABC this season in "Designated Survivor." The actor will portray Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman, who finds himself becoming the U.S. president after a terrorist attack on the Capitol. It seems he's basically Bauer, but with horn-rimmed glasses.)

Honorable mention goes to Turner's TNT. It's taking the Crypt Keeper mantle from HBO and reimagining the horror anthology in a 10-episode run, brought to you by M. Night Shyamalan.


Adaptations

Similar to the TV reboot, networks often find source material from hit movies or books. CBS' "Limitless," Fox's "Minority Report" and ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," all got their start on the big screen.

This year, the networks went to the movies or as Jimmy Kimmel pointed out during the ABC Upfront presentation, their VHS collections.

CW has "Frequency," based on the 2000 sci-fi thriller starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel. Fox is betting on two retro hits: "The Exorcist" and "Lethal Weapon." Meanwhile, "Training Day" will have airtime over on CBS.

It wasn't just cinema that inspired networks. CW's "Riverdale" is a very dark imagining of the "Archie" comics, so somber that it's virtually unrecognizable if it were not for the lead character's red hair in the trailer. Showrunner Shonda Rhimes' latest for ABC is "Still Star-Crossed," which tells the story after Romeo and Juliet's tragic teenage-angst demise. It's based on the book of the same name by Melinda Taub.

And, if you're inkling for more Dorothy after "The Wiz Live!," NBC will have "Emerald City," which will take viewers back to Oz, minus the singing and dancing.


Disclosure: NBC Universal is the parent company of NBC and CNBC.